Darine Khatib, Turner MENA & Turkey

Darine El Khatib.

Darine El Khatib, Senior Director of Creative Strategy and Brand Development for Turner MENA & Turkey talks to us about the new production – the Ben 10 Challenge, which launches on Cartoon Network Arabic on October 10.

Tell us a little about the show?

Ben 10 Challenge is a live action game show produced by Cartoon Network for all the young fans of our popular franchise Ben 10. Series one of the show is made up of 10 episodes.

The show is a high-energy competition in which two family-teams take part in a number of mental and physical challenges which include collecting aliens, testing their knowledge of the programme and even transforming into XLR8 and racing across hot lava. It is fast-paced action from start to finish and is as entertaining as it is visually spectacular.

The production value of the show is truly one that has never been attempted before on such a scale.  The huge set, innovative production technology and above all the games that were produced specifically for the show. As brand owners, we ensured having some of the industry’s most experienced talent creating and producing the show for us.

It is a real achievement for everyone involved, but most of all it’s our gift to our young fans who will now be able to experience their favorite character in an entirely new way.

It was a fantastic experience for the children who were given the opportunity to participate and I know that it will prove to be extremely enjoyable for all those watching at home. Viewers can catch the first airing of the show at 17:40 (KSA) on 10th October on Cartoon Network Arabic.


Why did Turner choose to invest in the live action Ben 10 Challenge?

Ben 10 is an extremely popular animated series, which is loved by children across the world.  We wanted to give back to our young fans by providing new content that pushes the boundaries of children’s television through the production of high-octane, visually spectacular programming that is fully immersive and interactive. Ben 10 is loveable because he is so relatable. We know that children want to be Ben and with Ben 10 Challenge we have provided the opportunity for them to do just that!

We also realise the importance of developing content that is tailored to local audiences in the MENA region, and are lucky enough to be able to work with our global team to develop programming such as this which is truly world-class in size, scale and production values, but has real local relevance. This is just one of a number of plans that we have in the works to ensure that we continue to bring high-quality and engaging content to the region’s children.


How important is it to localise internationally renowned programmes such as Ben 10?

We are committed to offering content that truly resonates with children in the region. The beauty of Ben 10 and many other of our shows is that they are truly universal and they appeal to children of a certain age regardless of whether that child lives in the U.S, Europe or the Middle East.  It’s this universality that has ensured the continued popularity of our programs across the world.  That said, we also believe that it is important to localize content so that children in the region can relate to our programs more deeply and can associate with the characters in meaningful ways.  We felt that it was very important for children across the region to take part in the live show to give them a fully immersive Ben 10 experience whilst also enabling children at home to relate to the contestants from a language and cultural perspective.


What’s next for Cartoon Network Arabic?

We will continue to consider the most innovative ways to engage with our fans. Simply providing entertaining content is no longer enough. We want to create fully immersive and interactive experiences that allow fans to engage in new ways. Our focus will, of course, always be to deliver world class content that is locally relevant, however our offering is no longer limited to television. Through our apps, games, licensed products and live entertainment we are able to continue to engage with our audiences across a number of platforms to bring their favorite characters to life in ways that would never have been possible even a few years ago.


What is the future of children’s entertainment in the region?

Whilst we place a huge emphasis on social media, new platforms and innovative technology, at the heart of everything that we do lies great content. You can use the world’s best production techniques and have a budget of millions, but without excellent storylines, believable and engaging characters and strong visuals, well it’s all a bit pointless. The future of children’s television will and should always be on producing world-class content that entertains and engages in equal measures. We will always be looking to break the mould and excite our audiences with fresh ideas and innovative approaches, but we will never forget what has cemented our success to date and that lies in our ability to create loveable characters that remain in the hearts of our audiences. Ben 10 has stood the test of time and has been a treasured cartoon character since the channel’s inception in the region seven years ago. We’re confident that the franchise will enjoy continued popularity and we look forward to presenting new characters to our young audiences in the years to come.